A Desire for Change - Reflections from Rising Leaders Session 1

By Christian Cruz, Full Circle Fund Rising Leader 2017-2018

Have you ever felt the need to take action and be a part of something greater than yourself? Perhaps scrolling through your social media feed prompted the voice in you to say, “I need to do something! I want to help.” Or perhaps like me, you have told others, “I want to make an impact in the world!” yet want to go beyond donating to a cause on GoFundMe or signing up for a one-time volunteer outing. My journey within the social impact space began several years ago when I was inspired by people who created social change – I wanted to keep that inspiration alive. Maybe you can relate.

Thankfully, I found Full Circle Fund- a community of passionate change-makers who have experienced and continue to stay engaged in philanthropic work. Since joining, members within FCF encouraged me to take part of the Rising Leader program. I’m grateful they did. The following is a report of our cohort’s kick off meeting.

“… And With That I’m In!”

On a Tuesday evening in early April, twenty young professionals who lived in the Bay Area convened alongside FCF staff in a bright-lit gallery for a time of introductions and introspections. When I arrived, I heard buzzwords such as “social impact” and “change” float around the room; I immediately knew I was in the right place. We gathered together to formally launch the 2017 Rising Leaders Program.

To start the meeting, each of us shared our passions, fears, and sources of rejuvenation with the group. Considering most of us had not met one another before, revealing these snippets of ourselves felt slightly vulnerable, yet the process laid a strong foundation for building our community.

Claire Kaufman (now Manager of Operations at FCF) remarked how “it was inspiring to have other young professionals from all walks of life come together to make a positive impact in our society.” To symbolically weave our stories together, we each ended our introductions by declaring, “… and with that, I’m in!”

“What are your values?”

After introductions and an overview of the 2-year program, we transitioned into a workshop where Dr. Rebecca Trobe, founder of Impact Coaching & Consulting, asked us to reflect: “What are your values as an individual, and separately, as a philanthropist?” We split into pairs as she guided us through an exercise that made us dig deep – really deep. As individuals, we sorted through 27 cards with words and accompanying definitions. These cards functioned as a tool to frame the process. Cards such as “Power – Having The Ability To Influence Change” and “Justice – Pursuing What Is Fair And Morally Right” provoked us to consider familiar vocabulary in a new light. Our objective: select and rank our top 5 values for both states of being. Talk about a challenge!

Reflecting on the experience, Asad Badruddin, who is also an Economic Opportunity co-lead, shared, “It was interesting to see that my personal values did not always overlap with my philanthropic values.” His discovery was common among the group and it revealed how our values and motivations change when evaluated under different contexts. Anina Tweed, our Rising Leader Co-chair, added “when we broke out into pairs, we were sometimes having discussions between people with incredibly different backgrounds and sectors, so we were able to see how someone from a different perspective approached the same end goal (social impact) through very different values.” Overall, most of us wrestled with the exercise, and some of us found ourselves with even more questions about our values than answers! Having facilitated this exercise with many leaders, Dr. Trobe assured us that “There is tremendous value in the journey and the questions you find yourselves asking.” As a cohort, our journey together is just beginning.

The kick-off revealed our diversity of passions, fears, sources of rejuvenation, values, and motivations. However, we are united by our passion for social impact and our commitment in declaring, “I’m in.”

Are You In?

Beyond Rising Leaders and even beyond Full Circle Fund, there are many ways to engage in social impact. If you’ve been looking to be a part of something bigger than yourself or feel the call to take action, ask yourself: “Are you in?” Or maybe if you feel the need to engage in philanthropy on a deeper level beyond donating money or a one-off volunteer event, ask yourself: “Are you in?”

If you said yes, we’d love to invite you to connect with others who are passionate about creating social change. In a few days, we’ll be having a Happy Hour on April 27th – we invite you to join us. Even if you’re on the fence, we invite you to join us. We hope to meet you there!

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